The second step of Alcoholics Anonymous states as follows:
“We came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
At an initial glance, this step may discourage some individuals trying to recover from alcohol abuse or other addictions from participating in AA because they don’t wholly understand what this step implies.
First, we must provide meaning for what is suggested by the term “sanity.” Of course, most alcoholics don’t feel like they are truly insane, and they may even think it’s crazy to be labeled as such. In this case, however, insanity may be better described by this quote attributed to Albert Einstein:
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
Most alcoholics can relate to this. Often, people will try multiple times to control their alcohol consumption, such as limiting drinking to nighttime only. However, most of us still end up in the same place when all is said and done. For a true alcoholic, this never works.
The Second Step
By admitting to insanity, we are also affirming our current thinking isn’t the most rational. This is the time when those individuals motivated to stop drinking must identify with a “higher power.” It is commonly misunderstood that this means an individual must believe in the Christian God or another prominent religious figure, but this is not the case. The objective of the second step is to come to realize that there is someone or something out there more significant than ourselves.
For example, try to imagine you did not exist. Would the world go on without you? Would the universe still be here? Most people would say “yes.” Simply by acknowledging that forces are acting above and beyond yourself, you have, in part, achieved step two. This step is all about hope and being open-minded to the potential of an individual looking to a greater power for inspiration and mercy.
Tips for Working Step 2
1) Keep an open mind to help you set yourself up to succeed – Be open to the possibility of seeking outside yourself for support and help. This way, you’ll be more able to digest the idea of sustainable recovery.
2) Maintain humility – Accept you may not be able to surmount your addiction without external support.
3) Understand what “sane” means – Stop engaging in the same harmful behavior over and over again and hoping against hope that things will improve somehow.
Why Believe in a Higher Power?
Engaging in addiction treatment or a support group will not “fix” anyone. While it is essential, it is not a long-term answer to the disease that is addiction. We must find another force to be present for us at all times because our minds will never be quiet and continue to nag at us occasionally, wanting to use alcohol or drugs. Harmful thoughts and feelings can gradually begin to re-emerge, often when we least expect them.
If you’ve ever participated in an AA meeting, you may have heard the phrase “your best thinking got you here.” Now is the time to acknowledge the fact that there is someone or something more significant out there than ourselves. This step isn’t all about believing in a God, necessarily, but about accepting the help you need and surrendering. You must concede there is hope out there, as cynicism will get you nowhere.
While working through step two, you don’t yet need to know what your higher power is. You must firmly believe that your feelings aren’t representative of the whole picture, however. Instead, it is about finding something to motivate you and keep you going, and help you embrace the fact that you are, indeed, here for a reason.
Moreover, this purpose should represent an individual goal that goes beyond just being an alcoholic. This is a spiritual program, but not necessarily a religious one. That said, there is also nothing wrong with having a more traditional understanding of God.
Getting Help for Alcohol Abuse or Addiction
Alcoholics Anonymous is an organization that has helped millions of individuals over the last few decades recover from alcohol addiction and prevent relapse. This fellowship achieves this, in part, by promoting accountability and providing long-term emotional support to members.
For many, however, peer support groups alone are not enough. Alcoholism is a chronic, possibly lifelong disease, and therefore, people who suffer often benefit from intensive medical and psychological treatment.
Just Believe Detox and Just Believe Recovery offer comprehensive, customized programs in partial hospitalization and residential formats. We make use of research-based therapies, including, but not limited to, the following:
- Cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Individual and group counseling
- Peer group support
- Health and wellness education
- Substance abuse education
- Medication-assisted treatment
- Art and music therapy
- Aftercare planning